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Riven Build Guide by Glorystain

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Glorystain

Riven Carries

Glorystain Last updated on January 24, 2012
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Solo Top / Tanky AD



LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #18 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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I am Glorystain, and this is my first guide on Mobafire.

I am writing this guide to Riven because I feel she is a somewhat underrated champion, and many of the guides out there fail to help her rise to her full potential. The recent nerfs Riot made to Riven have done little to diminish her; in fact, she experienced a net gain of 20 base damage to Broken Wings, and the damage redistribution makes her damage output much more consistent, making her a more forgiving champion overall.

And, most importantly, Riven's a lot of fun to play!

What Riven Is
Riven is an attack damage melee champion. She excels at dealing high damage both to single targets and small groups. She possesses two forms of crowd control, a stun and a knockup. She also has a good shield and several short distance dash effects. These attributes combine into a package that is both mobile and disruptive, making her a strong skirmisher and a decent team fighter.
What Riven Is NOT
Riven is not a tank. She can be built "tanky", but she cannot defend a team or sustain damage like a Rammus or a Maokai. She is not stealthy. She is not a strong initiator. She is not an assassin. She is not a ranged carry, and she certainly is not a healer.

I will attempt to make this guide as comprehensive as possible. However I would also like to share it with everyone, so I am publishing it in it's current form to gather feedback and in the hopes of sharing what I know with everyone. Expect frequent updates over the next few weeks.

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Pros / Cons

[+]Multiple forms of CC
[+]Good mobility
[+]Good sustain in both lane and jungle
[+]Fantastic farmer
[+]No Mana!
[+] Valor scales with AD
[+]Bigest sword in the game
[-]Short duration CC
[-]Fairly squishy (but who isn't?)
[-]Short range makes her easy to kite
[-]Cant dash over walls
[-] Broken Wings can be tricky to track

The best thing about Riven is she is very streamlined. All of her abilities key off of Attack Damage, making it very easy to outfit her and giving her very good economy. Every scrap of AD you put on her is going to contribute heavily to everything she does.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

The runes I choose for Riven are focused on maximizing attack damage both early and late game while maintaining enough toughness to allow her to survive engagements.

Marks and Quintessences should always be some combination of attack damage and armor penetration. Attack damage tends to help more in the early game, before characters have a lot of resources to spend on armor, and becomes weaker later on as your enemies gain armor and as the contribution from your items grows. Conversely, armor penetration tends to contribute more towards the end of the game when your enemies have the resources to pile on armor. Finally, the use of AD runes really compounds her early game power, translating a strong start into a strong finish.

I prefer to skew the spread more towards armor penetration because it equates to a % increase in damage, which dovetails beautifully with Riven's powerful damage. Greater Mark of Attack Damage and quintessence of desolation also work well. I would avoid Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage and Quintessence of Scaling Attack Damage in general, as they contribute little to the early game and you get better economy out of items by mid/late game.

As for Seals and Glyphs, I prefer to invest in survivability. Greater Seal of Armor gives her a good boost against early game harass, and Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist helps counter late game AP. If that's not your style, Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction and Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction are both good options for CDR and one stat Riven has trouble getting.

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Summoner Spells

Exhaust is a fantastic tool for Riven. The snare enables her to secure kills she might otherwise lose, as well as escape ganks. The damage debuff can help her survive a duel or save a teammate. It dovetails nicely with all of her abilities, giving her extra control of a fight. In short, this spell fills a lot of roles and helps shore up some of Riven's shortcomings. Under most circumstances, you will want Exhaust.
Ghost suits Riven well for many of the same reasons exhaust does. It will help you secure kills, escape ganks, and generally make yourself a big nuisance to the enemy team. The ability to ignore collision will also help you get into and out of engagement range when multiple enemies are involved, which can really aide your ability to position yourself correctly in a fight.

I'm a strong believer that you should always take at least one movement spell on any hero. If Ghost isn't your style, then maybe this is. Taking Flash gives you the option of jumping over walls and obstacles, or getting into or out of a fight quickly. I feel it's weaker than Ghost for Riven because she has a lot of inherent mobility and she is somewhat less dependent on precise positioning than other heroes, but maybe there's a use for it that I haven't discovered yet. Also it doesn't benefit from Masteries the same way as ghost.

Ignite is almost never a bad choice on any hero, especially in games with healers (which seems to be most of them these days). What it lacks in utility it makes up for in brute force. Taking this will help you secure kills, and that's about it. I generally feel that Exhaust suits Riven better, but there are still good reasons for taking Ignite.

The premier spell for those who jungle. If you're taking Riven into the jungle, this is never a bad choice. However it isn't completely necessary, either. Riven is quite capable of taking the smaller camps down very quickly at an early level without it, and she has little use for the blue buff. If you're planning to jungle with Riven you should be taking Smite. But you don't, strictly speaking, have to.

The other Summoner Spells either don't work well on Riven or fill a niche role that doesn't warrant a full discussion. Heal or Cleanse may be worth consideration for survivability but don't, in general, offer enough utility on Riven to be worthwhile. Clairvoyance and Promote are better left in the hands of support heroes. Surge just doesn't suit Riven very well; the attack speed is okay on her, but she gains nothing from ability power. And I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why not to take Clarity.

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Abilities (and how to use them)

Runic Blade is Riven's passive. It gives bonus damage to your next basic attack every time you use an ability. It stacks up to 3 times, and lasts for several seconds.

Runic Blade Gives Riven a substantial advantage in damage throughout the game, and incentivises her basic attack. The key to getting the most out of this abilitiy is making sure you land a basic attack at least every 2 or 3 ability activations. This takes some getting used to, but when done correctly produces a steady stream of very high damage. More on how to accomplish this later.

Broken Wings is Riven's key damage ability. It may be activated up to 3 times within several seconds. Each activation is a small dash forward that does damage in an arc, with the third activation creating a small AoE knockup as well.

There are many nuances to this ability, but it will most frequently be used in one of two ways. You will usually either use it to maneuver through combat, aiming to stay near enough to your target to land an auto attack after each activation, or you will be pounding Q like a madman to get as far away from, or as close to someone as fast as possible.

The dash effect is extremely short, but it closes enough distance to land a basic attack (now empowered with your passive) or to dash through a line of creeps. This ability, more than any other, is the engine that makes Runic Blade run. Patience is key with this skill; you must learn to control each individual activation and ensure that it places you in the best position.

Ki Burst is a short duration, short range AOE stun. It is most effective as either disruption (save it to shut down annoying channeled spells like Katarina's ultimate) or control. The stun is very short, so you can't rely on it to shut enemies down. But it is long enough to land a basic attack, which is how I use it most while laning, and it does good damage which is useful for farming.

I usually use this in conjunction with Valor to position myself in front of or between enemies, then stun them for a free basic attack and some damage. The same can be done with Broken Wings, though the dash on Wings is shorter so it is somewhat harder to place. As with all of her abilities, activating ki shout buys you a charge on your passive, make sure it doesn't go to waste.

Valor is a short range dash that shields you. I find this most useful to position yourself for both an attack and a retreat. It blocks a good amount of damage and scales on AD, making Riven one tough cookie.

This ability is a great way to slide past creep waves while laning, enabling you to land your Ki Shout for a free attack or getting in range for the full fury of Broken Wings. It also makes a great tool for last hitting creeps, especially against heavy opposition. You can usually Valor in, last hit a creep with the bonus from your passive, and run out before taking any damage. Your opponent's attempts to counterharass you will just bounce off the shield, and you can always Q-Q-Q away again if things get really hairy.

]Blade of the Exile is the motherload. When activated it increases your attack damage by a whopping 20% for 15 seconds, and can be reactivated again in that duration to create a large cone AOE execution effect that deals scaling damage based on how much health anything hit is missing. It also increases her range slightly and makes her look like a total f***king badass.

Basically this increases her presence in a fight tremendously. As a general rule, once you hit level 6 you shouldn't be committing to fights unless this is up. Instead rely on your high mobility to harass enemies who come to close. But when a real fight does start, this should be the first button you press. It has a remarkably short cooldown for an effect of this magnitude, so it will usually be available.

For laning/dueling, just harass them down to 50% or so. Once you think you have them in killing range, you can throw on Blade of the Exile and commit fully. Close your gap with Valor, use Broken Wings and ki shout to keep pace with your target, and secure the kill with Blade of the Exile. Be sure to use your summoner spells as appropriate, and watch your back for ganks.

In a team fight, Make sure you have a tank initiate or it'll be a real short ride. But once both sides are committed, use Valor to close the gap and soak any damage you take while closing. Use ki shout and Broken Wings while you're in the thick of it to deal some solid AoE damage and disruption, and try to aim your autoattacks at their carry. Be sure to weave your autoattacks between your skill activations to keep your dps up. Finally, look for whoever's low. When you see an enemy fall to 20% hp or so, activate Blade of the Exile again, and aim for the face. It has great range and spread, so even in the thickest of battles it shouldn't be hard to land.

Try to hit multiple opponents with your ult when you can, but your #1 priority should always be to remove variables from the equation. An Ashe at 10 hp can still be a threat, and I've seen many fights turn on one person making an early exit only to return and clean up. You have one of the best ults in the game for ensuring that doesn't happen. Make it count.

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Starting Items
I usually start out with Doran's Blade. It offers fantastic economy at a point in the game where it's hard to come by. The extra HP puts enough meat on her bones to allow Riven to harass early, and the extra damage makes everything she does that much better. The Life Steal is a little weak, especially at melee range, but it certainly doesn't hurt anything. -OR- Doran's Shield is an attractive alternative to Doran's Blade. It won't offer as much punch out of the gate, but it is a somewhat more conservative strategy. I would recommend starting out with Shield until you become comfortable harassing with Riven in the early game.

From there, prioritize the following items:

Required on any hero. We will discuss build options for these later.

Cloth armor offers some cheap survivability, especially early on, and builds into Mandred's Razors later on

Cheap, early game damage item. And like cloth armor, builds into mandred's razors.

Mandred's Razors offers a decent mix of both armor and attack damage, making it efficient to build. The proc isn't great on Riven, but it doesn't hurt anything. More importantly, it's the first item for wriggles lantern

Vampiric Scepter is the first game changer on Riven. Once you have this in hand, your ability to sustain yourself will improve drastically.

This is the first built item you should be going for. For a mere 1600 gold (total), this buys you a decent pile of attack damage (your primary stat), armor, life steal, and improved ability to farm. Most importantly, however, this item gives you free wards all game. Not only is that equivalent to making 75 gold every 3 minutes, but the utility this item brings to the table is unparallelled. It doesn't where you are in the game, you want this item.

Now we get to it. This is the point in the guide where my build diverges significantly from most of the others out there. Now that you have the safety, sustain, and utility that Wriggles brings to the table, it's time to farm up your damage. The lifesteal on wriggles lantern dovetails nicely with the B.F. Sword, keeping Riven well rounded while escalating her power dramatically.

More lifesteal. This is just getting silly.

This is the turning point in the game. Riven gets so much out of this one item it's incredible. Between Bloodthirster and Wriggles lantern you will have 30% lifesteal minimum. Add Doran's Blade and masteries and you're quickly approaching 40%. Combined with her ******ed ability to farm you can max out the bonuses on this item very quickly. Once you have this item in hand you will start to see what Riven is capable of.

You now have 3 of your core items in hand. What you build next depends largely on your performance so far and how the game is developing.
Brutalizer used to be a higher build priority for me but it's been declining steadily. It's still a fantastic item for her -- one of the best -- but I no longer feel that it really swings a game. Attack damage is just gold, armor penetration enhances her attack a lot, and provides the coveted Cooldown Reduction.

Buy this first if your opponents are getting tanky, or if your damage is starting to fall off, or whenever you have gold otherwise.
SPACE Avarice blade is really only used to build Brutalizer into Youmuu's Ghostblade, but I like to get it early to take advantage of the Gold per 5. The extra crit chance isn't that important to Riven, but boy are they nasty when you get them.

Buy this first if your performance is still solid and you have the gold and inventory space to spare.
SPACE Phage will build into Frozen Mallet later in the game. It is invaluable for the survivability offered by the HP, and the chance to slow your opponents helps you secure kills. The damage doesn't hurt either.

Buy this first if you're starting to get focused or are having trouble surviving fights, otherwise whenever gold and space permit.

I love Youmuu's on Riven. It provides good damage and armor penetration, and it's one of the few items worth buying for her that provides Cooldown Reduction. The activated attack speed buff dovetails nicely with all of her other abilities and helps her pump out the dps when she needs to.

The substantial health provided by Frozen Mallet is enough to allow Riven to survive combat consistently, and the slow combines will with her high mobility to make her extremely sticky. A huge upgrade from Phage and far better economy than Trinity Force, this item is mandatory on Riven when you can afford it.

Which boots to buy is a topic pretty much everyone should be familiar with, but still warrants it's own discussion. Upgrade your boots as soon as you can afford it and have an idea of which direction the game is going
You will end up needing Mercury Treads in almost every game you play. They're just that good. 35% tenacity is simply gold on any hero, and Magic Resistance is never overrated.

Buy these boots against any team that packs a substantial number of stuns, roots, or other forms of CC. Pass on these if they only have a couple, or if there are *significantly* larger threats you need to mitigate.
If you feel you can sacrifice the tenacity offered by Mercury's Treads, you should be looking towards these next. Other than Youmuu's Ghostblade, Ionians are the best way to pick up come Cooldown Reduction.

Buy these boots if Crowd Control isn't an issue but damage output and utility is.
Ninja Tabi are the boots to get when you're having difficulty surviving against heavy AD teams. Maybe they're packing a pair of ranged carries, or maybe you just can't deal with that Tryndamere any other way. When any of these situations arise, these are a good pair of boots to pick up. They serve a niche role, but they serve it well

Buy these boots if survivability against teams composed of multiple AD champions, especially if those teams are low on crowd control.

Your final slot should cater entirely to the game you're playing. There's a good chance you won't even make it to this stage in most games. If you do, the item you pick could be the deciding factor. It's a very personal choice, and a completely circumstantial one. My recommendations are listed below, but you will inevitably be the best judge of what you really need.

Guardian Angel is a well rounded item for the end game. It is a good item to pick if your team has trouble winning fights, or if the outcome of one fight could dictate the outcome of the match. The security of having an extra life is a substantial boon to any team, especially on a heavy damage dealer like Riven.

Infinity Edge will cinch your place as a top damage dealer in any game. Between your masteries and Youmuu's Ghostblade you already have some crit chance, this item will make the most of it. Buy this item if you're team is on top and your only goal is to put the final nail in the coffin.

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Coming soon!

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Coming Soon!

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Closing Remarks

At this point I've been typing for almost 7 hours straight. I feel that the guide is presentable in it's current stat, so I'm going to go ahead and publish it now and embellish it later.

Comments are invited and appreciated.

Special thanks to Jhoijhoi, who's excellent guide helped me format everything you see here.Your text to link here...